My life-changing experience in the Peruvian Amazon
The current world we live in is unbelievably well connected. We thrive off being able to reach our loved ones in a moment’s click and the ability to see what’s happening around the world in a quick scroll. From phone calls and emails to WhatsApp and Instagram, our chances to engage with each other are endless and constant. So what happens when this isn’t an option?
Arriving in the Peruvian Amazon instantly put this modern-day behaviour to the test. Greeted in Iquitos with a hot, sticky slap of humidity, the guides of the Delfin boat I was about to board handed me a cold towel. A two-hour drive later, we arrived at the slick and impressive Delfin III, a small riverboat that accommodates up to 48 passengers, where I would spend the next three days.
Once the orientation was over, we set out on our first of many skiff expeditions – traversing along the Amazon River and deep into the rainforest. There are two distinct seasons: the dry season, when fishing and hikes are on the agenda, and the wet season, when rivers are high and boat journeys take centre stage. We were here in the latter. On our first outing, we ticked off sloths, monkeys and an array of birds and pink river dolphins. My instant thought was, “I can’t wait to tell my family back home about what I have seen”, but that was quickly removed by, “I need to savour this for myself.”
Exploring the Amazon, there are some key factors that can make it unforgettable, and I was fortunate enough to enjoy them all. Firstly, I believe wholeheartedly that it rests on the guides’ shoulders to deliver an excellent experience – and the Delfin’s guides did just that. Jorge, Sandro and Denis were masterminds in every area, pointing out everything from the bird species flying overhead and the sloths in the treetops to the leaf I would require should I fall victim to a snake bite. Thankfully, I did not.
On one of our morning skiff excursions, we were pelting along the Amazon River in search of our next piranha-fishing spot when Sandro called out to the driver to stop. His expert eyes had spotted a very well-camouflaged caiman lizard, gently resting on a branch. How he saw it among the dense undergrowth will amaze me forever. He was incredible and this was just one scenario.
Our guides’ passion, which had been passed down from generation to generation, was evident in everything they taught us, and their love for the jungle and its residents was infectious. They were excited to spot a pretty bird called a blue-gray tanager, which is apparently amazingly rare in this area.
They accompany you on every activity, which leads me on to the second crucial factor. When on-board Delfin III, it is a jam-packed itinerary – but then again, you are in the Amazon so you must make the most of it. These varied from adventures by boat or on land, night safaris, shaman visits, kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, lectures and even Pisco sour-making classes. You name it, they had it covered.
When there is some downtime, the Delfin is a wonderful place to relax. I felt very spoilt resting in my room, as we glided past the jungle scenery. There is also a plunge pool on-board to cool off in, as well as a bar to sip a beer or two and get to know your fellow passengers.
The food was created by a very talented team – and this is the final feather in the Delfin cap. The three boats are all Relais & ChÃ¢teaux, so we feasted in style on a buffet breakfast of the freshest ingredients and a three-course lunch and dinner every day. Everything was delicious and beautifully presented, and this will remain one of my favourite dining experiences of all time.
When it was time to board the skiff for the final time and return to the mainland, I realised that three days had flown by and not once had I reached for my phone, other than to take photographs. I had been shut off from my world and entered somewhere truly special that I had previously only ever witnessed through the eyes of Attenborough. My time in the Peruvian Amazon was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m glad there was no 3G to accompany me.